DETROIT, Michigan — As Russia invades Ukraine, people across the country are trying to help any way they can. Ukrainian communities and businesses are coming together to donate money and resources.
“Michigan has about 40,000 people of Ukrainian descent,” said Mykola Murskyj, the executive director of the Ukrainian American Response Team of Michigan. “Metro Detroit has about 30,000, and the U.S. has between one and one and half million people that are Ukrainian descent. So, that is a pretty big number.”
Ukrainian communities and businesses on U.S. soil are taking a stand against the war on Ukraine. Their goal is to provide help to their homeland.
“Everything you see here has been donated from American citizens, Ukrainians, Polish and Slavic people,” said Nazarii Semchyshynn, one of the people leading donation efforts at a warehouse dedicated to resources for Ukrainian people.
The warehouse that Semchyshynn helps run was donated by a Ukrainian truck driver. It is used for shipping clothes, food and medical supplies to Ukraine.
“The backbone of our Ukrainian army is just ordinary Ukrainian people to donate resources that they don’t really have,” Semchyshynn said. “I think we shipped about 3,000 pounds of goods from this warehouse. The problem though is shipping the supplies, flying it out to Ukraine is expensive.”
According to Murskyj, the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Detroit is a hub that is coordinating locally and globally to give any aid they can.
“Businesses, individuals and art institutions in our community have come together to support Ukraine in any way they can,” said Murskyj. “We have had an owner of a trucking company who has spent tens of thousands of dollars of his own money to make sure goods are getting to where they need to go in Ukraine. The Ukraine cultural center right now has let us use the gymnasium in the back to let us use medical supplies.”
Jenny Feter is a documentarian and activist originally from Moscow. Her wife is Ukrainian, and being an activist against the war on Ukraine, Feter has been coordinating any help in Ukraine from Detroit.
“What we’re doing, we’re moving refugees out, we’re dispersing them into different countries,” Feter said. “We’re building shelters in one city, we have a master chef baking bread all day and giving them to different people for free. I am basically connecting the dots from Detroit to provide help.”
Businesses like Frame, a restaurant co-owned by Mark Kurlyandchik are also doing their part to try and raise money to send to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
“Right now, I’m prepping all the veggies for Borsht,” Kurlyandchik said while chopping up ingredients in his kitchen. “Borscht is a dish that Russians claim. And a lot of people think of it as Russian, but it does have its roots in Ukraine. It’s a Ukrainian dish.”
Kurlyandchik is of Russian and Ukrainian descent, for him the war on Ukraine is personal and his restaurant has dedicated a dinner to raise money to help the Ukrainian people.
On the menu, Borscht will be served to honor those in Ukraine.
“Whether it’s making a bowl of comforting food and telling the story of Ukrainian culture and using that to raise some money for the effort or trying to organize boots on the ground in Ukraine, it all helps,” Kurlyandchik said. “Because there is such a lack of large organizations providing help, I think individuals are going to make the change in this case.”